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Vinson Fellow explores tactics for alleviating poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa

April 21, 2017 | Students

By Rara Reines

Rara Reines

Vinson Fellow explores tactics for alleviating poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa

I have greatly enjoyed my semester as a Vinson Fellow, especially working with my faculty mentor, Dr. Rusty Brooks.

My research project focused on ways of institutionalizing public-private dialogue in sub-Saharan African countries to improve the local economy and reduce poverty. This entire field of study involves massive inequalities and inefficiencies, and there are no easy answers.

A public-private dialogue is essentially dialogue among the public sector, the private sector, civil society and development actors to shape policies for a more conducive business environment. Such a dialogue represents collaboration between the public and private sectors to strengthen the investment climate and promote open governance, as well as to reduce poverty.

I also incorporated a Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) approach into my research. M4P is based on markets systems reform that adapts markets to be pro-poor and inclusive.

A complicating issue is the existence of a strong and growing informal economy throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, made up of people who work outside of a country’s legal employment framework and have low job security. The informal economy comprises about 72 percent of total employment in Sub-Saharan Africa and will only continue to grow.

I am also on the research team AFRICAP, or African owned firms building capabilities in Global Value Chains, a unit of Denmark’s Roskilde University. This experience has enhanced my work as a Vinson Fellow, as it focuses on foreign direct investment and the productivity of African-owned firms.

For my presentation April 27, I plan to share a synthesis of the M4P and public-private dialogue approaches within the context of the informal economy.


Rara, a first-year student from Athens, is majoring in international affairs with a minor in African studies. Through the CURO Honors Scholarship, she is researching the African Agency of Investment Promotion Centres in Rwanda, Botswana and Lesotho. She is also involved with a research project at the University of Manchester analyzing the impact of the Tanzania Social Action Fund via stakeholder and recipient interviews and expectations. She writes for The Market Mogul and sits on the board of the Inter Community Council Inc., a council of residents of Athens federal housing projects.